Home / Blog / So expensive, so amazingly cheap!

So expensive, so amazingly cheap!

Just few days ago I bought an adaptor for my iPad. I needed to connect it to a television to show a presentation on a much bigger screen.

It turns out that the adaptor from the lightning socket (on the iPad) to the HDMI socket (for the television) cost 59€. That’s quite expensive for a 10cm cable!

I felt ripped off.

Then I went on the web and discovered that such a tiny adapter has to take the video signal flowing through the lightning port, decode it, and repackage it to fit the HDMI socket. It is not a matter of re-wiring wires, rather of decoding and coding some tens of millions of bits per second. And for that you need, basically, a computer. Which is what you find inside the AV adapter (it has an ARM chip with 256MB of storage).

At this point I was surprised to have been able to buy a computer, and a pretty performing one for that matter (such performance wouldn’t have been available just 15 years ago in the consumer market and you would have had to pay several hundred bucks just 10 years ago).

I would have not suspected that inside that white plastic was a computer. 

This is just another instance of technology completely disappearing from my (our) radar.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. He's currently the Chair of the Symbiotic Autonomous Systems Initiative of IEEE-FDC. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and up to September 2018 he was the Head of the EIT Digital Industrial Doctoral School. Previously, up to December 2011, he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books. He writes a daily blog,  http://sites.ieee.org/futuredirections/category/blog/, with commentary on innovation in various technology and market areas.